Parramatta RiverCat Offers Different View of Sydney Harbour

Most people would be familiar with the sight of Sydney Harbour, with the best know view looking west with the Sydney Opera House in the foreground and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to its right.

This view, as you look up the harbour, is indeed fantastic, but for a completely different view of the harbour, a journey on the Parramatta RiverCat reveals a markedly different side of the harbour city.

Travelling on Sydney’s ferries a brilliant, and quite peaceful, way to see Sydney in all of its glory. The Parramatta RiverCat looks different to the lower harbour ferries as they are shallow-hulled catamarangs which leave little wake, thus protecting the banks of the Parramatta River, and need to negotiate some shallow waters as they get further up river.

Sometimes the Parramatta services are interrupted by low tides, and when that happens the ferries terminate at the Rydalmere Wharf, and the journey to Parramatta is completed by bus.

Assuming that the tides are ok, and the ferry can proceed all the way the Parramatta, the trip from Circular Quay, which is where the main city ferry wharves are located, takes about one hour and 20 minutes, and it is quite a delightful trip – especially if you can avoid the peak hour crowds.

After leaving Circular Quay you pass the Opera House, and head upstream, sailing under the Harbour Bridge. The view of the bridge as you pass under it is really very interesting, particularly as you get an idea of just how very wide the bridge is. On your left is the historic Rocks area, and on your right is Luna Park, a famous Sydney icon and amusement park.

First stop is the King Street Wharf at Darling Harbour, and by now you are seeing the less photographed side of Sydney, although it too, with its towering skyscrapers, is quite impressive.

Soon after leaving Darling Harbour you pass Goat Island and Cockatoo Island, which used to be a ship building centre, and begin to enter the narrower reaches of the Parramatta River. Here you begin to see a bit of Sydney suburbia and some of the houses, particularly around Abbotsford, are really quite impressive.

As the ferry passes Meadowbank you begin to see mangroves lapping the river edges, and although there is some fairly dense housing and some big industry beyond these mangroves, they are not very obvious.

If you wish to wander around the site of the 2000 Sydney Olympics you can alight at Sydney Olympic Park Wharf, but if you stay on board the river gets narrower still and soon you are almost within touching distance of the mangroves which now hug both sides if the river.

The RiverCat finally terminates at Parramatta Wharf on Charles St. It is worth looking around Parramatta for a while as it has a fascinating history, although, it is hard to believe that this place was once farmland and considered to be an outlying settlement during the days of the early Sydney colony.

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